Filed under: Book Conservation, Connections, Kindle, Publishing, Religion, Society, tech | Tags: Amazon, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, caligraphy, direct publishing, economics, Erik Kwakkel, history, jim downey, Kindle, technology
A lot of folks don’t know it, but I have an undergraduate degree in Economics (and another in German). And, while I haven’t really done anything with that degree, it does still largely inform how I see the world: in terms of economic forces at play.
So this nice little explanation of how the industry of making books worked during the Medieval Period … and the forces which led to it … as well as how it relates to modern publishing … well, let’s just say it ties a lot of my interests together. Here’s an excerpt:
The professionals who made books for profit were usually found near the biggest church in town. This was a well-chosen spot as canons and clerics (i.e. people who visited the church and who could read) formed an important part of the clientele. By the 14th century true communities of the book had formed in the neighborhoods around churches and cathedrals. Evidence from such cities as Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, London and Paris suggests that in these communities a diverse group of artisans interacted with clients and with each other. It was a world bound not only by the book, however, but also by profit.
The whole thing is worth a read, and it’s actually quite brief. Brief, but insightful.
Filed under: Connections, DARPA, Government, movies, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, Society, tech | Tags: Boston Dynamics, jim downey, movies, predictions, robotics, science, Science Fiction, technology, video, www youtube
I know how it ends.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Predictions, Promotion, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: 1500, Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kickstarter, Kindle, literature, predictions, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
So, yesterday’s post was #1,500 here. The last Big Round Number was posted on December 9, 2010. Since I started the blog in January 2007, that means that the pace has actually been fairly stable, in terms of my posting — about 250 a year, more or less.
I never really expected it to last this long. But I’m glad it has. And I’m glad that so many people have shared some or all of the ride with me. Have been witness to my efforts to get Communion of Dreams published conventionally. Have shared my experiences as a care-provider for someone with Alzheimer’s (and the subsequent book). Have supported me when I decided to self-publish CoD. Have helped to spread the word about that novel. Have encouraged me to write the prequel.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Arthur C. Clarke, Augmented Reality, Connections, Feedback, Google, Health, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Science Fiction | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, April Fools, blogging, Communion of Dreams, feedback, Google, Google Nose, health, Her Final Year, humor, jim downey, Kindle, reviews, Science Fiction
I usually refrain from posting anything on April Fool’s Day. I mean, seriously, why would you want to? My sense of humor is quirky enough that most people don’t *quite* share it. And the competition for a good April Fool’s gag is really stiff. But on the other hand, if you try and post anything ‘serious’ — particularly the odd or innovative stuff I like to blog about — there’s a fair chance it will be either ignored or dismissed.
So I usually just don’t bother.
But today there’s three new reviews up on Amazon, and I thought I should share. Even if they do leave me wondering whether they’re a gag in themselves.
Well, not this one. At least I don’t think so.
Loved the premise, but the in my opinion, the book fell short of delivering. “Set up a meeting Seth, set up another meeting Seth” seemed to be a lot of the dialogue. Might have been better as a short story. Took me a long time to read as it never “grabbed” me.
That’s the whole of it. Well, other than the two stars and the title of the review: “borderline boring“
The next review isn’t much longer. In fact, it’s even a bit shorter. Here it is:
Jim Downey is evocative of Arthur C. Clarke at his best. Downey has taken Clarke and led us to the place where Clarke left us. i can’t remember a book of this genre that i’ve recently enjoyed more than this one. MORE please!
Nice, eh? Particularly with a five star rating and bearing the title: “Clarke left us, Downey is taking us onward now.“
now, with parents getting older, mother with alzheimers, father with rheumatoid arthritis and stupid doctors, this book was perfect! i passed it on to the sister that’s handling all the problems since we live over 300 miles away. she and i agree that it is invaluable for caregivers.
But that sounds serious, so …
Damn. I hate April Fools Day. It always leaves me so confused.
Say, did you hear about Google Nose?
Filed under: Book Conservation, Carl Zimmer, Connections, Faith healing, Health, National Geographic, Predictions, Psychic abilities, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, Carl Zimmer, civilization, Communion of Dreams, dental hygiene, diet, Ed Yong, evolution, faith healing, genetics, health, jim downey, National Geographic, predictions, psychic abilities, science, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
I’ve been entirely preoccupied with a big book conservation project which landed in my lap unexpectedly and needed attention right away (and trying to keep work going on St. Cybi’s Well), but a news item I saw the other day has been kicking around in my head. Er, so to speak. It’s the notion that the quality of dental hygiene & health in the modern era is *much* worse than it was before the advent of civilization. Here’s a good passage from one of the better articles which sums this up:
Our mouths are now a gentrified shadow of their former selves. And as Carl Zimmer described earlier this week, ecosystems with an impoverished web of species are more vulnerable to parasites. He was writing about frogs and lakes, but the same is true of bacteria and mouths. The narrow range of microbes in industrialised gobs are more vulnerable to invasions by species that cause disease, cavities, and other dental problems. “As an ecosystem, it has lost resilience,” says Cooper. “It basically became a permanent disease state.”
Of course, current thinking is that this is due to a fairly radical change in diet between the two time periods, with our reliance now on domesticated grain crops.
But I know the real reason:
“He had a nutty theory that early man had been shortlived, but impervious to disease. Something about being able to trace back mutation clues to some proto-genes that suggested a powerful ability to heal.” Jackie frowned.
Yeah, that’s from almost the end of Communion of Dreams. And is a topic we’ll revisit in the prequel.
Filed under: Art, Augmented Reality, Connections, Feedback, General Musings, Predictions, Publishing, Science Fiction, tech, Writing stuff, YouTube | Tags: architecture, art, arts, blogging, Communion of Dreams, construction, D. Westry, feedback, jim downey, literature, painting, predictions, Science Fiction, Scrivener, St. Cybi's Well, video, writing, www youtube
A number of friends and others have asked me how the writing is going on St. Cybi’s Well. It’s a natural question, but it’s a little hard to explain. Here’s the gist of what I have been telling people:
Using the Scrivener software, it really is a different process than what writing Communion of Dreams was like. It’s less linear. But it’s more balanced & comprehensive. Let’s put it this way – I have components now done in all 19 chapters of the book (plus the prelude). Some of it is just landscape descriptions, drawn from my previous travelogues. Some of it is character sketches. Or specific scenes. Or notes about something which needs to happen. It’s different. It feels more productive. But it’s kinda hard to explain.
This morning, after I got up at 3:00 for physiological needs, as I was trying to get back to sleep I was thinking more about this (well, and thinking through some scenes for the book — I do a lot of that in the middle of the night), and I came up with a couple of analogies which may help non-writers understand what the different processes are like.
First is constructing a building. Writing Communion, the metaphor would be that I picked a nice location for my building, leveled the ground, poured a concrete pad of sufficient size, and then started building a brick wall on one corner, working my way around the entire pad brick by brick as I went, making determinations as to locations of doors and windows and whatnot according to a rough plan I had in my head. Once the exterior wall was completed, I put a roof on it, then proceeded to do much the same process inside the building for interior walls and all that, using the mostly set exterior as a hard limit to what could be done internally.
With St. Cybi’s Well, the metaphor would be that I went to an architect/engineer, and did all the design and layout of the building in advance. Before a single footing was dug, or materials ordered, I knew pretty exactly how I wanted the entire thing to look. Then once all that was sorted, the actual construction was done entirely differently. Footings were dug, concrete poured. Then a steel framework was put in place for both the interior and exterior walls, and roof trusses positioned. Once this internal skeleton was finished, then I would start to put up sheathing material for the walls and roof, proceeding to finished surfaces.
See the difference? One feels almost organic, and makes sense to the outside observer from the very start. The other feels a little more arcane or artificial, and it isn’t obvious what the finished product will look like until well into the building process.
OK, let’s try another metaphor: art. Specifically, painting.
Some artists work in a way which seems natural and obvious. They pick a subject, usually do some rough sketches on their canvas to help get all the elements sorted out & proportioned. Then they’ll start to apply pigment according to their particular style or technique. Some of which may be a little hard to understand for a casual observer, but the basic process makes sense — you can see the different aspects emerging organically.
But there are artists who work in a completely different way. They have a concept in their head, and will proceed to do a series of fairly random strokes of paint. Each stroke is crucial, each one in the perfect place, but the end result isn’t clear to the observer until the final moments, when the last few elements are done and suddenly the artist’s vision breaks through. Like this:
Now, don’t try to over-think these analogies, or to take them too literally. They’re just intended to help illuminate some of the differences in process between this current novel, and the last one.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work on my building.
Filed under: Art, Book Conservation, Connections, SCA, tech, U of Iowa Ctr for the Book, YouTube | Tags: art, Bill Anthony, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, calligraphy, Getty Museum, illumination, jim downey, Legacy Bookbindery, manuscript, medieval, SCA, video, www youtube
This item from the Getty on making illuminated manuscripts is making the rounds among my friends who are into things medieval. It’s relatively short, quite good, and covers the basics nicely.
But I particularly wanted to share it because when it gets to the bookbinding part (at about 4:30) it shows my bookbinding mentor, the late Bill Anthony, doing the work.
Bill was one hell of a craftsman, and a better bookbinder than I’ll ever be. No, that’s not false humility — I’m now just a few years younger than Bill was when he participated in making this video. But at that point in his life he had been a bookbinder for more than 40 years. I’d have to continue to work at it full time for at least another 20 years to have the same time in harness. And since I’m distracted by writing and other things, well, it’d probably take another 40 years to even have a chance to achieve the same level of proficiency. But that’s OK — I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, and the things I have accomplished (and still hope to accomplish).
Anyway, I wanted to share this.
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Arthur C. Clarke, Book Conservation, Connections, Feedback, Isaac Asimov, Kindle, Marketing, Music, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: aesthetics, Amazon, art, Arthur C. Clarke, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, Isaac Asimov, jim downey, Kindle, literature, Moody Blues, music, predictions, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, Stephen King, writing, www youtube
So, a couple of things to share this morning …
One, the decision has been made: we’ll be going with a design for the leather bindings which includes raised cords on the spine. In terms of the response I got from people, it wasn’t even much of a competition — “cords” were the favorite almost 10 to 1.
But that doesn’t mean that the book has to have an old look. Not at all. I’m playing around with some design ideas which will incorporate the cords, but which will feel more modern. Watch for some preliminary posts on that in a couple weeks.
Two, if you are expecting to get a leather-bound copy of Communion of Dreams, but haven’t yet told me of your color preferences, do so soon. Further, if you didn’t get a confirmation response from me acknowledging your choices, then please contact me again. Because I had something of a book conservation emergency drop into my lap 10 days ago, things have been delayed a bit — but I’ll still be ordering leather and starting on those bindings before the end of the month. Please don’t delay.
And three, there’s a new review up on Amazon you might want to check out. Here’s an excerpt:
this book is very well worth your time if you love classic sci-fi. i would say that so far it is a combination of arthur c. clarke, isaac asimov, and a little stephen king. not too shabby for an unknown author. not sure if this is a series, and don’t want to ruin anything for myself by finding spoilers in reading others’ reviews. i’ll finish this book first. that may be soon- already lost most of a night’s sleep reading it. this is an original alternative universe, populated by humans and their robots, being created here; that is why it reminds me of asimov.
As always, I invite you to produce your own review, rate the book or other reviews, or just leave a comment in any reviews which particularly engage you. And you don’t have to do so only on Amazon — if you participate in another venue where such a review or recommendation would be appropriate, the help is always appreciated.
One final note: yup, the writing is proceeding apace. More on that later.